WASHINGTON — Alleged misbehavior by the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies gives the GOP something else to talk about and investigate as the economy clearly, if slowly, recovers on President Barack Obama's watch, robbing Republicans of a central argument against Democrats.

Amid a series of recent positive economic reports, the GOP is revving up its portrayal of the Obama administration as scandal-ridden and inept, while largely abandoning the party's where-is-the-recovery criticism.

Republicans had little choice, given that the economy has gained considerable strength over the past 18 months. Today, the federal budget deficit is shrinking rapidly and tax receipts are rising. Consumer confidence and spending are up, as are auto and housing sales. Stocks are near all-time highs.

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